There’s a (not unreasonable) school of thought that says the biggest challenge you’ll face as a business owner is the existence of rivals. Rival businesses, whether they’re smaller and newer than you, or bigger and more established are in direct competition not just for customers, but for advertising space, for common logistics solutions, storage space, raw materials and more. Every success from a rival means there’s less available for you.
This can be a stressful realisation that piles on the pressure to ensure your decisions are perfect every time – but is it true? And is rivalry a helpful way to characterise your relationships with other businesses in your niche?
There are times when your competitions with rival businesses are a zero-sum game – that someone else’s success is, by definition, your failure. But that’s not inevitably until you’ve collectively exploited the fullest extent of your market. If there are still customers out there to win, then you’re certainly competing with other businesses, but their successes aren’t inherently restricting your potential for successes of your own.
It’s important to know what your market capacity is, and the extent to which you can expect it to grow (or shrink) over time. Market research is a great help here and well worth investing in.
Rather than fighting tooth and nail (and compromising your ability to make better decisions for your business in the struggle), co-existence may be a better strategy to pursue while more of the market remains untapped. Commissioning a competitor analysis report from consultants helps you to identify your most important competitors and learn some key information about them – like when they’re likely to launch new products or big sales.
With that insight you can schedule around them, and ensure you’re not blunting the impact of your own adverts by going head to head with your rivals and competing for the same ad spaces. Find the white space where you can reach new customers, or avoid the direct effects of other businesses and you’ll find the secret to co-existence.
Do competing businesses come with advantages?
The competition can push you to find new ideas and better, more efficient ways to do things. If you fall into complacency, your business is likely to fail even with no competition. Knowing there are others out there hungry for your share of the market helps to stave off that decline.
On top of that, running a business can be lonely and highly pressured. Friends and family don’t necessarily understand the strain you’re under. Your natural peer group, the people who can rely on to understand these pressures and help relieve them are in fact your rival businesses owners! As long as you can suspend that rivalry socially you may find they make the best of friends.